Human rights groups snub 'flawed' Sri Lankan war crime panel

Posted By: Abdul Nisar
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Colombo, Oct 15 (ANI): Three international human rights organisations have reportedly declined to appear before a Sri Lankan inquiry into the end of the country's civil war, saying the procedure is flawed and lacks credibility.

According to the BBC, the International Crisis Group (ICG), Human Rights Watch (HRW), and Amnesty International (AI) have all refused to appear before the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) saying, it lacks any mechanism to protect witnesses and falls short of minimum international standards of a commission of inquiry.

The groups have argued that the commission is flawed because its members were appointed by the government and has no real mandate to investigate war crimes in the last stages of the conflict, and added that they would welcome an opportunity to appear before a panel based on a genuine effort on reconciliation and accountability.

Human Rights Watch group has claimed that the president's appointment of the LLRC was "an apparent attempt to deflect calls" for an international investigation.

"Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation," the BBC quoted Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch, as saying.

The rights groups have long accused government forces of ordering civilians into a "no-fire zone" and shelling them in the final stages of fighting between government troops and Tamil Tiger separatist rebels in early 2009.

However, the commission, appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has denied the allegations and added that the panel is a credible attempt for reconciliation.

President Rajapaksa appointed the commission in May primarily to investigate why a Norway-brokered cease-fire between the government and the Tamil rebels signed in 2002 collapsed.

Earlier, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had appointed a panel to advise him on accountability issues on Sri Lanka. However, the government rejected the panel saying that it would not grant visas to UN panel members to visit Sri Lanka. (ANI)

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